Animal shelters are seeing more dogs get adopted than ever before

Dogs are finding their forever homes and it's the good news we totally needed today.

Animal shelters are running out of dogs in pandemic
@criene via Twenty20

With news about COVID-19 popping up by the hour, reading the day's headlines can leave your heart feeling heavy, but there is one good news story that should lift you up, mama (especially if you're an animal lover).

Pet shelters are seeing record numbers of adoptions right now as families are spending more time at home. Seriously, animal rescues are running out of adoptable dogs and that's amazing news.

Around the country, shelters are running out of adoptable dogs. This isn't just good news for the dogs who are finding forever homes, but also for the animals who will come after them. With the more adoptable animals now living with families, shelters that are now operating with reduced staff can concentrate on the sick or injured animals who need their attention, and keep spaces open for animals who may need to be surrendered or rescued because of the coronavirus.

"Shelter dogs are really winning in this entire coronavirus experience," Sarah Brasky, the founder and executive director of Foster Dogs Inc. in New York told the Associated Press. "It's a strange phenomenon because there was always interest in fostering and rescue but now it is exploding."

According to Lorie Chortyk, a spokesperson for the B.C. SPCA, the extra time people are spending at home right now does make this a good time to bond with a new pet. "Because when an animal comes into your home, it's a very new experience for them, as well as for you — so just having that time to play, to get to know their habits, to do a bit of training, if that's what's needed, is good," Chortyk told CBC News.

Animal advocates stress that families should only adopt right now if they will still have the time to be committed pet guardians when everyone goes back to school and work, but for families who were already planning on getting a dog eventually and can commit to one long-term, now really is an ideal time—for the dogs and for us.

"The medical research shows that animals can reduce our stress, reduce our blood pressure, and just really be a source of comfort to us," Chortyk explains. "So I think they can also give back to us at the time where we really do need that comfort more than ever."

She's right. According to Yale University, dogs can reduce our stress and make kids happier, kinder, gentler and more independent.

Dogs make parents + kids happy

It's the first benefit on the list and also the most obvious. Dogs just make us happy. Many dog owners report a mood boost from spending time with their pup and many parents have noticed how canine companions can boost a child's mood.

There's a lot of science to support this link between dogs and human happiness.

One study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that “pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners," and another, out of the University of Cambridge, found that kids get more satisfaction from their relationship with household pets (especially dogs) than with human siblings. Yet another found that “having a pet dog in the home was associated with a decreased probability of childhood anxiety."

According to Yale, the happiness kids feel around dogs is due to the hormone oxytocin (the same hormone thought to make mothers more responsive to their baby's cries). This hormone is known for playing a role in how we bond with each other and its release makes kids feel more social and cheerful.

Dogs reduce kids' anxiety

Studies suggest therapy dogs help pediatric cancer patients maintain stable blood pressure, pulse rates and anxiety levels, and similar results have been seen in programs that see children who are reluctant or anxious readers read to dogs instead of people.

This is again, probably down to oxytocin, as "interacting with a friendly dog also reduces cortisol levels most likely through oxytocin release, which attenuates physiologic responses to stress," researchers note.

Dogs make kids more caring and independent

Many parents decide to get a pet to foster a sense of responsibility in their kids, but even when children are too young to be walking or feeding Fido themselves, research indicates that having a bond with a dog is doing them good, not by making them more responsible, but by making them more empathetic.

A preschooler is much too young to be “responsible" for a dog, but they can still enjoy the routine a dog's presence brings to a household and can do things like bring the leash to mom when it's time to go for a walk (maybe that's why studies suggest children from homes with a pet dog have higher levels of physical activity.)

According to Yale Medical, being responsible for a dog makes children feel proud, and that in turn leads them to take better care of themselves.

Dogs are good for kids' health

The impact a dog has on a child's health can start even before they are born. One study out of the University of Alberta suggests having a pet in the house during pregnancy and the first few months of a baby's life lowers their risks for developing allergies or struggling with obesity later in life and reduces the transmission of vaginal group B Strep (which causes pneumonia in newborns) during birth.

It basically comes down to gut bacteria. Dogs are dirty, but there's some good stuff in that dirt.

Having a dog to walk can motivate a family to get outside more, (which is good, because little humans need almost as much exercise as a dog).

Bottom line: If you always wanted a family dog now is a good time

If you were already thinking about getting a dog and know that keeping your pandemic companion for life is part of your plan, there's never been a better time to adopt a dog.

[A version of this post was originally published on November 29, 2017. It has been updated.]

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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